Study connects increased cancer deaths to the financial crisis

Cancer TreatmentIllustrated - Cancer Treatment.Photo: Heiko Junge /

A study shows that the financial crisis may have led to half a million cancer deaths worldwide. The study is based on  numbers showing correlation between unemployment and cancer death.

The study assumes that one sees an increase in cancer deaths when unemployment rises and public health budgets are shrinking.

160,000 In EU
– Based on our analysis, we estimate that the financial crisis coincided with over 260,000 extra cancer deaths in OECD countries in 2008-2010. This suggests that there may have been well over 500,000 additional deaths worldwide during the same period, says the author of the study, Mahiben Maruthappu at Imperial College in London.
The OECD countries are the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In the EU  the study estimates that 160,000 people who otherwise would not have died, died of cancer during the financial crisis. For the US the figure is 180,000. In countries like Spain and the UK, where the public health system covers the entire population, there is no estimated increase in deaths.
– Cancer is one of the main causes of death worldwide, so it is crucial that we understand how changes in the economy affect the ability to survive, says Maruthappu. The study was published in the medical journal The Lancet.

20 years of statistics
– We found a correlation between higher unemployment and increased cancer mortality, whereas access to healthcare for all gives protection. This is especially true of cancers that can be treated, such as breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, he explains.
By studying 20 years of statistics from over 70 countries with a total of 2 billion people, the researchers found an increase of 0.37 deaths per 100,000 population for each percentage point of increased unemployment . This was linked to the changes in unemployment during the financial crisis in order to arrive at the estimate of this study.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today